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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Pohang Steelers.

K League 1 Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Pohang Steelers

After a six week break due to the World Cup, the K League 1 returns to action in earnest this weekend. Gyeongnam FC against Pohang Steelers has all the ingredients to be an entertaining clash as both sides are looking to stay in contention at the right end of the league. The Reds have been very busy reshuffling the squad during the break bringing in five new faces and letting a similar number of players leave for pastures new. The Steelers make the hour trip south with a very talented squad looking to take home the spoils.

Game: Gyeongnam FC v Pohang Steelers.
Venue: Gimhae Civic Stadium.
Kick off: Saturday, 7th July. 7pm.

Last Time Out


Gyeongnam 0-1 Gangwon

The Reds had a very bad day at the office in their last game before the break, losing to an energetic Gangwon outfit. Gyeongnam threw all their endeavour and willingness into the match but never really tested the away side's goalkeeper and they really lacked the final ball in the final third. Gangwon looked a threat going forward throughout and deservedly won the game through a towering header by the K League 1 leading goalscorer Đerić on the hour mark.

Pohang 1-1 Suwon Samsung

Pohang have been in fine form of late and came into this game on a high after beating champions Jeonbuk the previous week 3-0 away from home. High flying Suwon came to the Steelyard and left with a deserved point. Two late goals shared the spoils here. Suwon opened the scoring on 72 minutes through Montenegrin striker Dejan with his third league goal for his new club. Gamalho continued his good form and leveled matters just three minutes later for his fifth goal of the season to grab his side a point.

Previous Meetings


The sides played each other earlier this season at the Steelyard with Pohang proving too strong for The Reds, beating them 2-1 with a double from the aforementioned Gamalho. The away side pulled one back late on from a Kim Hyo-gi strike. The Reds where unlucky not to draw level after striking the woodwork twice in the final 10 minutes.

Looking further afield, Pohang have been dominant, beating Gyeongnam 19 times out of the 28 times they have faced each other. Five games have ended in draws and Gyeongnam have come out on top on just four occasions.

Team News


The home side will be buoyed by the news that Marcao has returned to Korea this week from Brazil. He has come back 100% fit after he had been carrying a slight thigh strain that was preventing him playing no longer than 45 minutes for the last month before the World Cup break. New signing Paulinho signed from Flamengo. He is a winger by trade and will be pushing for a starting berth after impressing in training. More new faces, Cho Young-cheol a midfielder from Ulsan and left back Yoo Ji-hun has made the step up coming from Seoul E-Land will be pushing for a start as well. The Reds also lost attacking midfielder Kwon Young-hyun in a swap deal with Suwon FC but in return signed their captain and midfield playmaker in Lee Gwang-jin. It will be interesting to see how they all fit in to the already talented Gyeongnam squad.

The Adversary


The East Coast side return from the World Cup break in good shape. I expect Pohang to lineup in their usual 4-3-3. Away from home, coach Choi Soon-ho has recently preferred a fluid interchanging front-three led by Song Seung-min, standout rookie Lee Geun-ho, and have generally rotated the third forward. This has seen Brazilian Gamalho, start on the bench in games away from the Steelyard.

The Steelers come into the game in decent form having lost just one of the last five; the East Coast Derby at Ulsan. Although, of those five they have won just the one as well: an impressive three-nil victory at a weakened, but still a decent, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors side.

That away victory brought parity to the side’s away record for the season as it reads won two, drawn two, and lost two. Both defeats were 2-1 scorelines and the victories were a result of some clinical finishing as Pohang netted three times in each. Scoring goals haven’t been an issue on the road for this week’s away side. They have scored in five of their six away trips and on four occasions have opened the scoring in the first half.

Pohang Steelers will be looking to continue their goalscoring exploits away from home this weekend. If they do so we could be in for a very entertaining return to the K League 1 season.

By Ross Davis

Who to Watch



Marcao

It's hard to look past the big man. He has effectively been coming off the bench and playing with his thigh heavily strapped for a month now yet his effect on games has still been astounding throughout this time. His overall game is crucial to the way Gyeongnam play. He is strong, powerful and a threat in the air from set pieces. From a defensive point of view he is fantastic defending at set pieces. His link up play with the pacey, more agile players buzzing around him like Kunimoto and Negueba make him a nightmare for defenders to mark. He should be the focal point for The Reds this weekend. He has been back in Brazil getting himself fit during the break and, from his Instagram pictures and videos, he looks raring to go and is over his niggling thigh strain.

Prediction


This will be a very tight affair I feel. Just three points separate the two teams with Gyeongnam on 22 points and Pohang on 19 points respectively. The fixture is being played elsewhere the province, in Gimhae this Saturday, so home advantage has gone out of the window. Due to this I think it'll end in a draw.

Predicted Score:
Gyeongnam 1-1 Pohang.

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